Mullardoch circuit - snow, sun and inversions
by rockhopper » Tue Jun 11, 2013 5:40 pm
Route description: Carn Eige and Mam Sodhail
Munros included on this walk: An Riabhachan, An Socach (Affric), An Socach (Mullardoch), Beinn Fhionnlaidh (Carn Eige), Carn Eige, Carn nan Gobhar (Loch Mullardoch), Mam Sodhail, Mullach nan Dheiragain, Sgurr na Lapaich, Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan, Toll Creagach, Tom a'Choinich
Date walked: 07/06/2013
Distance: 59 km
Ascent: 4950m25 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Tentative plans for Loch Mullardoch in May had been shelved due to the weather and not wishing to carry winter gear as well as a camping pack. Hadn’t originally planned to go anywhere this weekend due to imminent commitments but the forecast was looking just too good to be true. Last minute change of plan, booked Friday as a holiday and set off early that morning up the A82 to Drumnadrochit, then Cannich and along the single track to the Mullardoch dam. Parked in the grassy area just north of the dam – just a few cars and a tent already there. Spoke to one guy who was dropping off his friends – he couldn’t walk that day due to an injury.
Weather was a bit grey when I set off initially but it then cleared up quickly. Walked along the track trying to decide whether to stick to the track which runs N then NW beside the Allt or go NW over Mullach na Maoile. Opted for the latter – found it fairly steep going or maybe more that I was out of shape. I suspect it may be slightly shorter but the lack of a track may even things up.
Kept on up the hillside over MnM and could see the first munro of the day, Carn nan Gobhar.
It was at this point that I looked over towards Sgurr na Lapaich and started to get a bit worried. I could see a fair bit of cornicing on the corrie edges and started to wonder whether I’d be able to get up through it. Would’ve been a short day if I’d had to call a halt at this stage !
Straightforward walk up to the summit of Carn nan Gobhar.
Looking at the map and Sgurr na Lapaich in the distance, it looked as though the approach was up a ridge which didn’t go through a cornice. Granted there was some snow but it looked doable.
Headed off down to the bealach where it was easier to see the route. Did meet some snow nearer the top but it was soft and not steep – combined with some rocky sections it was a little tricky but not serious.
Go to the top of Sgurr na Lapaich.
Then had the long walk down and round the edge of the cliffs over Coire Gnada before starting up to An Riabhachan. More ascent/descent/ascent before getting to the summit and #3 for the day.
Then the descent down to the bealach before climbing up to An Socach.
I was now starting to consider where to stop for the night. I was thinking that if I made it down to the end of the loch by 1800hrs I could then try to get up over Mullach nan Dheiragain that night and camp high – problem would be water sources. Alternatively I could just stop at the end of the loch. The long seemingly endless descent from An Socach sealed it for me – although I got down to the loch just on time I decided to have a leisurely meal and get up early the following day – it would definitely now be two nights rather than one.
Got down to the Allt but couldn’t find a suitable crossing point. Wandered up and down a bit before changing into my flip-flops and crossing just at the point where Allt Cam flows down from up near Mullach Sithidh – there were some building remains on the south side of the main stream.
Set up the tent not far from the ruin, had a leisurely meal and got to bed sharpish.
Woke at 0330hrs, had a look outside, saw low clag and mist so went back to sleep hoping it would clear. It didn’t. Had that sinking feeling of a day in the clag again. Eventually got up, breakfasted decamped and set off up the hillside to the west of the Allt – not long before I was into the clag so nothing for it but to keep going.
On the approach up towards Mullach Sithidh though I came up out of the clag. Depression turned to euphoria – inversion all round and blue skies. Looked like it would be a good day after all.
Turned westwards before going south up to Mullach nan Dheiragain. Could see Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan away in the distance and the full extent of the ridge from it all the way over to Mam Sodhail – was wondering what I’d got myself into !
Long walk and more ups and downs on the way to Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan. Could see more snow over to the west of it but my approach looked clear. Met another walker on his descent just before I got to the top.
From here it was a case of following the ridge
A pair of ptarmigan
Nice walk along to An Socach
I was carrying 2l of water but wasn’t sure where I’d be able to pick up further supplies – had been using it up faster than normal due to the heat and carrying the large pack. The bealach to the NE of An Socach was a possible - I managed to find a wee burn appearing out of the hillside just to the south of the bealach. After filling up I headed back up to the bealach and met two walkers who were up for Mam Sodhail.
From the bealach I followed the track which rises gradually up the hillside and made the going somewhat easier. Higher up had to climb more steeply before finally getting up to the summit of Mam Sodhail.
The weather was still great but I could see rain in the distance to the south. Fortunately the wind was taking it away and it didn’t look like I was going to get wet.
Building remains on the lower slopes.
It has a large cairn at the summit – climbed up the side and had look into the top.
Initial descent then started up towards Carn Eighe before branching off northwards to skirt round its lower slopes. Spoke to more walkers who were heading back towards Loch Affric. Found another wee burn as it appeared out of the hillside so stopped to top up my water supplies – decided to make my dinner at this point as well. As I planned to camp on the bealach to the east of Carn Eighe and there didn’t look to be any more water sources, I also filled up my 2l collapsible bottle. Having my dinner beside the burn meant less water to carry – although I was still carrying 2l using and 2l for camp.
Skirted round Carn Eighe, hid the large pack and walked north to Beinn Fhionnlaidh. Spoke with some people who were camping just below it on the bealach and had carried up water.
Didn’t take long to get to the top without the rucksack.
This wee fellow popped his head up to have a look before scurrying off over the summit.
Walked back to pick up the rucksack and headed up to Carn Eighe. Met two other walkers who were also camping down on the bealach to the east.
Although some clouds had come and gone it had stayed dry – rain the distance but none here. Down to the bealach and on a little to get a bit higher than the other tents (some others were already there when I arrived). Nice soft mossy surface.
Set up the tent and watched the sunset. Some mist also appeared between Mam Sodhail and Carn Eighe.
Up early the following day – inversion all round even more impressive than the previous day. Managed to catch a little of the sunrise as well.
Breakfast with a view
Tent was covered in condensation and some frost/ice – must’ve been cold through the night. Packed up and headed off eastwards.
Some rocky sections round the top of the corrie – trickier sections had a path below them. Little ascent today, just a long walk back to the car.
Tom a' Choinich came up first.
Then the long walk to Toll Creagach where I met a walker who was on his first of the day, was going clockwise and hoping to cover the round in two days.
Sat for a while just looking at the views and the inversion. It had been a hard 2.5 days but the weather couldn’t really have been better – no rain at all.
Eventually headed off downwards. Interesting gate.
Heading somewhere down here
Then through the seemingly endless long heather and down into the clag which did subsequently clear when I got lower down.
Round a deer fence and got to the dam.
Went down the wee path just below the dam and eventually managed to come out at the north side – not sure if it was much of a short cut as I ended up going through some thick heather and trees but probably because I didn’t take the right path when I first crossed below the dam and got into the trees.
Back to the car around midday, got changed, took one last look and headed off for Glasgow.
One last photo looking back.
My first two night camp, hard going but enjoyable. Apologies for the number of photos – this is after sifting out several hundred others.
by Meatball » Tue Jun 11, 2013 5:59 pm
This may be copied in the future!
by pigeon » Tue Jun 11, 2013 6:37 pm
by Collaciotach » Tue Jun 11, 2013 6:48 pm
I ll be following you .. gu dearbh
by simon-b » Tue Jun 11, 2013 8:44 pm
by Fife Flyer » Tue Jun 11, 2013 9:15 pm
Great narrative & some magical photo's, you couldn't have picked a better weekend weather wise
by gammy leg walker » Tue Jun 11, 2013 9:30 pm
Think I will need to pick this lot of in one"s or two"s.
Some stunning inversion pictures.
Getting close to the end now also..
by hutchy1 » Tue Jun 11, 2013 9:46 pm
by mrssanta » Tue Jun 11, 2013 10:23 pm
by basscadet » Tue Jun 11, 2013 11:17 pm
Loved all the photos. I remeber thinking all the same things as you.. The long descent from Mullardoch 4 is tortuous, and the view when you reach the Affric ridge is soul destoying! Well done indeed
The big cairn at Mam Sodhail was the site of the very first Trig point, and the ruins below were where the surveyors stayed
by weaselmaster » Tue Jun 11, 2013 11:41 pm
Great pictures too - cheers
by Stretch » Wed Jun 12, 2013 12:04 am
by Helen Bruce » Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:24 am
by Fudgie » Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:44 am